Apple is set to begin a trial production run of its AirPod wireless earphones in Vietnam this summer as it looks to shift some production from China amid ongoing trade tensions, according to a report on Wednesday.
The California-based tech giant tapped Goertek, one of its manufacturers in China, to test its manufacturing processes for AirPods at its audio facility in Vietnam, Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter. The trial phase typically signals plans for mass production.
The sources said that Apple has asked AirPods component suppliers to support Goertek’s test run by keep prices stable during the trial phase. The test marks the first time that Apple’s wireless earbuds have been produced outside of China.
"The initial output will be limited, but it is easy to increase capacity once all the manufacturing procedures are running smoothly," the person with knowledge of the situation told the outlet.
Apple declined to comment.
Apple has explored the possibility of moving up to 30 percent of production out of China amid a trade dispute between the Trump administration and Beijing, Nikkei previously reported. U.S. officials are considering 25 percent tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese-made goods amid an impasse in negotiations.
Apple asked the Trump administration last month to exempt its products from any further tariffs on China, arguing that the levies would impact its contributions to the U.S. economy and the company’s ability to compete with international rivals. The company said the proposed tariffs would cover all of its mainstream products, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook.